Reckless Love pt. 3 – A poignant thought and example

This is part 3 of a blog reflecting further on a sermon message I gave in reference to the worship song, “Reckless Love.” Please join in the conversation with your thoughts and reflections.

 

I was speaking with another person after the service Sunday night and this person has obviously had some bad experiences with love. He said that he doesn’t see anything wrong with the phrase, “reckless love” because there’s no such thing as perfect love. He said that everyone is broken and unable to love without hurting people and he even went as far as to say that God’s love must be the same.

You see, this person has experienced reckless love in an entirely different way than what the song is meant to convey. I told this person – who’d been hurt and burned by people and had previously given up on God, and is now on the path back to loving and believing in God again – that they were right about one thing. No human is capable of perfect love, and sometimes love is so tangled up in our sin that our love can be violent and dangerous, or in another word, reckless.

Then I told him that I believe God is different. God’s love is perfect and God’s love doesn’t hurt us like that.

 

This person, having gone through whatever it is they went through that broke their faith in the first place, is now coming back to God with a working understanding of God’s love. I mean, it’s a work in progress. He’s confused about a lot of things, and then he comes to church and hears this phrase, ‘reckless love of God,’ and automatically associates it with the kind of reckless love – that is careless, hurtful “love” – that he’s been exposed to.

 

Do you see what I mean about the potential danger associated with having this phrase used in congregational worship? 

This person was literally formalizing a theology that God’s love isn’t perfect, and the song was well on the way to helping solidify that.

  5 comments for “Reckless Love pt. 3 – A poignant thought and example

  1. John
    July 2, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Hi Jono, interesting example, however the truth it illustrates is wider than this specific phrase. Don’t we all potray our personal interpretation of God’s nature based on our earthly experiences? For example if I had grown up with an abusive father then every song we sang at church which used the term father would be a violation of my view of God as a father. It would be my responsibility as an individual to obtain an understanding of God’s true nature of a Father from scripture. I would also hope the way my church taught and protrayed God as a father would help in correcting my view of God’s nature. It would be impossible to sing any song or hymn in church if I have a corrupted definition of a word or phrase based on my experience. In turn, rendering sung worship as “dangerous” to someone’s faith? Labelling the phrase ‘reckless love’ in this example to be damaging of someone understanding of God or reinforcing a worng belief of God isn’t really fair because any phrase or word used in worship could reinforce a broke tehological view.

    • jonathanbarb
      July 4, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks for you input, John. I’m not sure I wholly agree with your argument about the use of Father. I understand that some people have had a hard time opening up and accepting God as Father due to a poor relationship with their own earthly fathers, and I agree that it would be up to you (and also the those believers around you to help understand that) to gain the sense of a Good Father through reading Scripture. But the use of Father, and Father as Good for that matter, is consistent within Scripture. The imagery is there, and what’s more is that the words are there too. Nowhere in Scripture do we see the words, or the outright implication of God’s love being reckless. It’s not only inconsistent with Scripture, it’s not Scriptural at all.

      and I do think sung worship has the potential to be dangerous. I don’t think you were there Sunday night, were you? I mentioned that it’s through songs that we develop what we think about God more than anything else these days. therefore, the songs we sing carry a huge weight and responsibility to teach us good and true things. Would you substitute the word “careless” for “reckless?” Why or why not? They are synonyms.

      I just suggest that there are multiple words that would be more accurate and less dangerous that could be used: perfect, relentless, self-less, awesome, etc.

      I don’t know how using any of those words could be used to “reinforce a broke theological view.” But ‘reckless,’ literally meaning to not care of the consequences of one’s actions goes to imply that God doesn’t really care or really think through his actions, which is a ridiculous thing to say, don’t you think? You gonna try to tell me that God’s love doesn’t care? I know that’s not what the songwriter means, but it is what the word, itself, means and I think that can be dangerous.

      • John
        July 4, 2018 at 6:51 pm

        Some good points there Jono. I still think the initial example used for this purpose is flawed as it is an ‘experience based’ view of God. I agree the father example isn’t the best seeing as the problem is not just an expreince based view but also one lacking contextual understanding.
        For example a young man who is from a tribe in the amazon, they practice cannibalism but he escaped and came to the western world. He opened a Bible and read the verse where Jesus himself says you must eat my body and drink my blood, this verse now shapes his understanding that Jesus encourages cannibalism..his past experience, mixed with a neglect for context leads him to this view.
        In this case the example is directly from the mouth of Jesus. This then makes reading the Bible damaging to his view of God. Right?
        Regarding the phrase not being in scripture is irrelevant. it is important to approach any thing pretaining theology (or just anything in general) with context. If you viewed two words in context with the rest of the song and the message and purpose in which it was written, you would agree with me in saying it would be foolish to intrepret it as ‘careless’ because everthing about the song points to a conclusion otherwise. Taken in context of the rest of song the word “reckless” is used to mean that God’s love defies all human categories of how love ought to operate and express itself. God loves sinners in the most unconventional and seemingly unsophisticated manner possible. As Cory Asbury himself said in explaining the background to this song, “God’s love for us isn’t crafty or slick or cunning. God isn’t concerned with what it might cost him in terms of his reputation among people. He isn’t concerned with the consequences that might come his way when those he loves don’t love him in return. God’s love is anything but cautious”.
        Now that would be a reasonable conclusion to come to.
        We sing the great hymn Amazing Grace, but we all know the earth will not in fact “dissolve like snow” it’s an artists poetic lisence. Taken in context of the song we understand the reasoning of the phrase. The same line could be detrimental to someones theology who based on ‘experience’ believes God does not care for his creation. Now isn’t that a dangerous message for the most famous hymn in the church to send someone?

        If we are talking about what shapes our congregations theolgy we should also look at the contents of sermons, seeing as the church globally now gathers around a sermon. I’m a fan of popular culture but I’m just using this as an example: black panther. We are so quick to use movies that glorify communicating with the dead, and drawing upon the power of spirits to convey messages to the church. (Those things in fact are explicitly in the Bible as wrong, (going back to the point about reckless not being in the bible)). The movie although containing it’s flaws in realtion to Christianity illustrates a truth you want to convey; like wise the song.

        Anyways peace

  2. John
    July 4, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Some good points there Jono. I still think the initial example used for this purpose is flawed as it is an ‘experience based’ view of God. I agree the father example isn’t the best seeing as the problem is not just an expreince based view but also one lacking contextual understanding.
    For example a young man who is from a tribe in the amazon, they practice cannibalism but he escaped and came to the western world. He opened a Bible and read the verse where Jesus himself says you “must eat my body and drink my blood”, this verse now shapes his understanding that Jesus encourages cannibalism..his past experience, mixed with a neglect for context leads him to this view.
    In this case the example is directly from the mouth of Jesus. This then makes reading the Bible damaging to his view of God. Right?
    Regarding the phrase not being in scripture is irrelevant. it is important to approach any thing pretaining theology (or just anything in general) with context. If you viewed two words in context with the rest of the song and the message and purpose in which it was written, you would agree with me in saying it would be foolish to intrepret it as ‘careless’ because everthing about the song points to a conclusion otherwise. Taken in context of the rest of song the word “reckless” is used to mean that God’s love defies all human categories of how love ought to operate and express itself. God loves sinners in the most unconventional and seemingly unsophisticated manner possible. As Cory Asbury himself said in explaining the background to this song, “God’s love for us isn’t crafty or slick or cunning. God isn’t concerned with what it might cost him in terms of his reputation among people. He isn’t concerned with the consequences that might come his way when those he loves don’t love him in return. God’s love is anything but cautious”.
    Now that would be a reasonable conclusion to come to.
    We sing the great hymn Amazing Grace, but we all know the earth will not in fact “dissolve like snow” it’s an artists poetic lisence. Taken in context of the song we understand the reasoning of the phrase. The same line could be detrimental to someones theology who based on ‘experience’ believes God does not care for his creation. Now isn’t that a dangerous message for the most famous hymn in the church to send someone?

    If we are talking about what shapes our congregations theolgy we should also look at the contents of sermons, seeing as the church globally now gathers around a sermon. I’m a fan of popular culture but I’m just using this as an example: black panther. We are so quick to use movies that glorify communicating with the dead, and drawing upon the power of spirits to convey messages to the church. (Those things in fact are explicitly in the Bible as wrong, (going back to the point about reckless not being in the bible)). The movie although containing it’s flaws in realtion to Christianity illustrates a truth you want to convey; like wise the song.

    Anyways peace

    • jonathanbarb
      August 6, 2018 at 9:04 am

      My apologies, John, for not seeing this sooner. I appreciate your input, and you make a very strong case. When it comes to the Amazing Grace line though, you’re right, and for that reason I don’t sing that line, and I usually prefer to replace that whole verse with a verse from the original hymn. But you’re right, context is key.

      I think perhaps, as we came to discuss at that sung theology group meeting, that our songs today are much more emotive than they are theological. Maybe that’s a sign of the times and something that I struggle with. It’s good to hear your voice on this. I know you’ve thought a lot about it and have a strong opinion, so thank you for offering some understanding to me.

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